Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An American Intervention

I hope that my gentle American readers can forgive this.  I write nothing about America without getting hate mail, but I was hoping we could speak reasonably for a change.  I promise not to rant, and perhaps I can get you to listen.  Call it an intervention.  Call it a little chat from your neighbor across the fence.

I know you're very sensitive on the subject; I know that often it feels like the whole world is against you, that none of us are in your camp.  You're proud of your country and we all understand that.  We've visited your country and for the most part we like it.  There's very little that's actually wrong with the land and the people.  It's your philosophy that makes us uncomfortable.

You see, today, as you're having an election, the vast majority of us out here in the world can't understand what you're thinking.  To us, it seems obvious who ought to be elected.  To us, we can't even understand how Romney got on the ticket.  It's not that we don't understand the need for a Republican party - we do.  It isn't that we don't understand why Republicans defend those positions - we understand that also.  It's that we can't understand how, from around three hundred million people, this can possibly be the best candidate half your country can endorse.  It baffles us to the extreme that no reasonable, charismatic, properly educated candidate came forward to take the helm of the Republicans and make them look reputable.  Surely, there must be someone in the country on the right with more than one degree; who has more than a passing military experience; who has experienced more of the world than a small fraction of high-end holiday resorts.  Yet, no such person materialized, not over any of the 18 months of this ongoing, impractical experiment to allow a few voters from Hamilton County in Ohio and Hillsborough County in Florida to decide who is your President.

Speaking now as a person living in a country whose present Prime Minister does not represent my philosophy of government, I want to say that I do not find myself afraid.  Yes, Stephen Harper, who is the P.M. of Canada, is the head of the Conservative Party.  They hold many of the same ideals and purposes as the American Republicans do.  But I am not afraid to find myself living in a country that has chosen to elect them.  Nor do I hate them for winning the last election.  I would rather they hadn't; but I have faith that the country will be run decently until the Liberals are chosen, and policies I support are reimposed.

I don't understand how you can stand to live in a country where you fear who will win your election.  I can tell you that we out here in the world fear that you will vote for people who clearly do not care if the poor live or die.  We in the world fear the next war that America will start.  We fear the next bullying tactic America's Government plays to support its cadre of corporate supporters.  We listen to Americans scream their fear, and we don't understand why this fear must continue.  We want to believe your country will not be forever run by people who seem incapable of empathy or kindness.

Believe me in this, also; we are not overwhelmingly impressed with President Obama.  He seems to speak well, but he is as much a warmonger as the previous President and, like all candidates we've seen for these last four decades, he seems unable to understand that violence is not peace.  His concerns regarding the various factions fighting for control in various countries are clearly those of the American Military and the American Businessman; humanitarianism seems irrelevant to him.  Human pain and suffering, even that in his own country, seems irrelevant to him.  The man talks a good patter, but he hedges and backfills and never quite seems to be willing to accept that unpopularity from a very vocal minority is not a reason not to take action.

I would ask you, America, to vote your conscience, but I think I can speak for everyone out here in the world when I say it does not appear that you have one.  Please do not take that as an attack.  Take that as a reason to convey your beliefs in a manner differently than you have.  I have no doubt that you do indeed have a conscience.  For the sake of heaven and all the people of this planet, your own people included, please listen to it.  Please show us that you are listening to it.  Please show us that it is the same conscience that humanity has striven for these many centuries:  that human beings are more important than money; that we must sacrifice our comfort and our security where human suffering is involved; and that when we do not get what we want, we count our time and patiently re-evaluate the situation, before turning to violence.

I would like someday to see some of this emerge from the greater majority of people in your country.


Nine-toes said...

Funny, I haven't felt attacked by anything you've written about the U.S. I'm voting for Obama, but I think I understand why people are voting for Romney. I know people who are on Medicare who are voting for Romney, who has promised to gut it if he's elected. Some do not think voting makes any difference. Some simply can't understand the issues. Some simply believe Romney is the better candidate to turn the economy around. Personally, I don't think either candidate can solve volatility in energy supply and demand. I do think one of the candidates will cut expenses by cutting services to his fellow Americans. Some see this as a virtue, some are tired of paying taxes to support anyone other than themselves. And they don't see anything wrong with this view.

Keith S said...

You write as if the American people have a choice in this matter. That's the great farce of "American Democracy". It is dead, consumed by corporations and their stooges placed in nearly every position of influence in government.

We the sheeple have allowed this to happen. Through apathy and consumer greed. Sated by our big screen TVs, numbed by a combination of bad food, bad entertainment, and bad education. All of it engineered to leave us trapped, plugged in to this horrible American Matrix.

Anonymous said...

I would forumlate a response, but my last two have not found thier way onto the blog comments so I'm hesitant to spend the time and energy.

Anthony Simeone said...

I don't blame other countries for being uncomfortable with the state of American's political discourse...or should I say discord? I've been uncomfortable with it for years. That's why for the longest time I've voted Green Party or Libertarian.

Romney and Obama are two sides of a horrible coin (and yes, Obama is our "Drone Bomber-in-Chief"). I can't stand our nation's current desire to go beyond a civil "agree to disagree" mentality. These days, it's not enought to disagree with someone and leave it at that. No, you have to totally destroy/ invalidate your opponent's beliefs. It's disgusting, and it makes me ashamed.

I'm also ashamed that our economic watchdogs turn a blind eye to the immoral ways system-expoiters make money in increasingly arcane ways that hurt the lower classes. The housing crisis was caused by people cashing in on the "flip that house" craze and not giving a shit how their fellow American was going to pay for that house, and the bankers that also didn't care that ARMs were going to skyrocket. It's all about a rancid "me first" mentality and our nation's desire to commoditize everything.

I keep my head down, try to stay positive, and care for my family as best I can. I vote my beliefs and don't fall for the herd mentality that many Americans follow out of fear. Keeping an open mind and thinking for youself is hard work, and most folks don't seem to want to put in that work. And I hope that one day we will come to accept that the world doesn't want to be America anymore, and that that fact is ok. Then maybe we can be civil again, and do some nation-building at home.

5stonegames said...

The issues in play are deeper than just "why can't we get along" and as such desires to return to the brief artifical comity we seemed to have will fall on deaf ears.

Its quite natural for a sprawling empire to have such divisions since we are 10X the size of Canada and undergoing a tremendous cultural and ethnic changes, it is to be expected

More importantly the assumption that the big issues had been dealt with, race, religion, money, culture and so on and a general consensus was met is a false one.

People believed the media hype or were too distracted to think it through and to realize that all we did is wallpaper over the problems with money.

Worse the current strategy (from 1965 or so) , bringing in a new electorate and cheap labor to dilute the various factions actually makes things worse. A bi-polar nation (Black and White) is easy to govern compared to dozens of factions.

Still in the end it goes back to money, wages down by half from the 1970's for most workers (roughly), bad GINI index , unemployment high, mass money printing and all that. Its a disaster waiting to happen.

I understand why, the USG doesn't know how to or just can't change course but the result is as the money is running out, all that unresolved crud and poor management (the US is run like a 3rd world country) comes to a ahead.

With luck it won't go BOOM! but simplistic solutions, why can't you be more like Canada just can't work.

Would that they could, Canada is fine fine country but the US is just too different. Its not 1980 any more and that old conforting but understood USA is no more. We are a lot closer to Brasil Do Norte and our neighbors and those depending on our military need to take heed for the long term.

Alexis said...

I hesitate to answer, 5stonegames, but you make such a representation of the problem I cannot help it.

I never said "just get along." I never said "be like Canada."

I said, be rational. Which does not begin with inventing strawmen to disagree with.

Anonymous said...

I'd be more baffled and troubled about Romney making the ticket if I hadn't been watching and hoping so hard that his primary opponents wouldn't make it. I breathed a sigh of relief when he won because I told myself "no matter what happens in November, at least it won't be a complete disaster."

I've been a democrat by default for so long that that's the most I can hope for from the Republicans these days. But the reason why half or nearly half of the voting country still sees something worthwhile on the right, once you get past the sort of racist, elitist, jingoist and moralist views that the party unfortunately tends to harbor, is the unfulfilled promise that somebody is going to make the hard decisions and do something about the nation's spending problem.

It's not always a matter fo whether you care for the poor or not, and I'm certain Romney doesn't. Some people are just tired of paying more and more into the system and not seeing the standard of living getting any better. Some people are tired of seeing the country go back to the well again and again to borrow more and more money, more than what we take in, and wonder where the hell its all going to.

So when a guy like Romney comes along, all smug-smiled and smarmy and giving the song and dance about fiscal conservatism, people will buy it. It's not because they're the stupid, misguided and uneducated masses liberals would like to think they are. It's becuase they're tired, and grasping somewhat at straws. When they see Obama essentially carrying out many of the Bush policies on the bank bail-outs and incapable to gettig congress ot pass a budget they wonder what's the difference?

Personally, while I can sympathize with those people, I still walked into the booth today to vote for the guy who's already there, because yeah I think the country is in better shape now than four years ago, but so much more needs to be done. I hope if Obama wins he gets that. It staryts with passing a real budget.

Butch said...

If you had a movie with Romney cast as the right-wing presidential candidate, people would attack it as ridiculously over-the-top. I wouldn't buy a used car from this guy. I certainly won't vote for him.

But no one is voting "for" Romney. It's a referendum on Obama. Just like 2004 was a referendum on Bush.

I'm disappointed with Obama's first term, but mainly because Republicans have spent every day trying to prevent him from getting shit done. Maybe the second term will be better... maybe not. But I'd rather have a president who will try to do the right thing and fail, than one who will try do to the wrong thing and succeed.

Anyway, you might find this amusing: Election Day Results Simulator. Roll 3D6 and see what happens!

Alexis said...

Butch! You're alive! Hooray!

Butch said...

Yes... now Day 9 without power. I am really getting to understand the medieval mindset.

Alexis said...

Send me your address on my email when you're ready, and I'll send you some things; list anything you think you'll need, and I'll work off flood care package lists.

5stonegames said...

Tao, maybe I was speaking more broadly of my Canadian friends and acquaintances than I should have and if I gave offense I apologize.

As to behaving more rationally, well given our history, given the nature of our rebellion against the crown and who we are that request will fall on deaf ears I think.

However as we reelected the current guy and decided to give him another go, maybe not,

Alexis said...

It's all good, 5stonegames. It gets exhausting having to listen to outsiders get all superior on your ass. As I said, I knew you were sensitive on the subject.

I think, however, the whole world just breathed a great sigh of relief. We should mostly have good feelings about you for the next 30 months, before the next crew of Republican psychopaths start gearing up to do it again.

JDJarvis said...

There was an articulate right leaning by a hair intelligent fellow running for the Republican party nomination, Jon Huntsman, he wasn't batshit crazy enough or wealthy enough to survive the primaries. Despite the talking heads on t.v. and cranks on the internet most of us really aren't afraid of who will be the presidentn in 6 months most people will be hard pressed to name the v.p. or both senators from their own state. Most of the residents of the U.S. really don't care. Far more of us can rattle off starting line ups of favored sports teams than could name a dozen congressmen.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to go back to something 5stone said above, and its something that I've heard a lot lately, mostly from Canadians and maybe a Brit or two.

It's this idea that somehow mainstream American thought has been meaningfully shaped by the fact that an armed rebellion led to the forming of the country vs. legislation.

I'm wondering a few things. One, is this folk wisdom or has this theory been seriously advanced somewhere? Two, is the reason that this does not resonate at all with me a result of me lacking objectivity or those making the assumption lacking enough first-hand experience to make such a claim?

I just don't feel any connection at all to the founding fathers. I'm several generations removed form that, not to mention a wave or two of immigration. I feel a guy like Glenn Beck, who I immediately think of whenever this observation is advanced, only does in the most superficial way, to sell books or try to find some meaningful context for his irrational thinking.

Little help?

mntnjeff said...

I think 5stones hit the nail on the head... we're now a corporatocracy and most Americans just don't care. It's the apathy that frightens me in the US.

I'm a dual citizen (US and Canada) and I've voted my entire adult life. During university I was staunchly committed to "fighting the good fight" and taking the message to the streets. In other words, I was verbally proactive in my stance.

Today though, I'm older and less prone to antagonize through argument / discourse. I have less energy to deal with that type of aggression, and truthfully I think that it's a moot point most of the time. Many people have their mind made up and the media has painted each "side" in stark contrast. If I'm good, the other guy is bad. Simple right?

Well, these days I try and live a life by the tenets that I've verbally argued for years. I believe in humanitarian efforts, so I volunteer and donate. I believe in the environment so I mow my lawn w/ a push reel, drive a small hybrid and commute by bike when it's possible. I believe in education so I attempt to further it by fostering curiosity and creativity in my children. Now, if I could only solve health care and blatant agression.

A change is coming. And I believe it starts w/ the individual.

But to your point Alexis, yes it's really quite amazing that the right can't come up w/ a decent candidate.

Alexis said...

I can offer you this, James, on your quandary.

The late republican Romans were completely obsessed with the actions of those men who had founded both the kingdom and the republic, hundreds of years before. Shakespeare drew on that from Plutarch, who spoke precisely to that with regards to Brutus, who was expected to kill Caesar because one of Brutus's ancestors, another Brutus 450 years previously, was the central figure in removing the kings of Rome (ah, Livy).

The Roman calendar was memorized by children in school by who were the consuls of that particular year, rather than what was the 'year' ... this whole memorizing history by year was our thing. Roman children learned that such and such happened in the third year of Camillus' consulship. Which is an incredible feat when you consider that's five hundred years of consulships to remember.

The obsession with the past, and pointing to the past to figure its importance to the present, is a way of controlling a population's mindset and keeping it under thumb. It works. If you're not innovating, you're not threatening the existing power structure that is based upon things never changing. Tradition is a methodology to discourage innovation.